New Car Sales, Pollution and Volkswagen

New Car Sales, Pollution and Volkswagen

Car Dealer magazine has alerted me to the fact that the VW Group registered 4000 more cars in the UK this August (2018) than in the same month in 2017. Why would this be, I wonder, knowing that August is traditionally one of low car sales in advance of the usual new car registration sales rush in September?

Key to this seems to be something new called WLTP, to do with new car emissions. I apologise for the necessary acronym here – you probably haven’t heard of this yet – so an explanation is needed.

Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP)

There’s a revised laboratory check, called the Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP) designed to measure fuel consumption, CO2 emissions and pollutants arising from new passenger cars from 1 September 2018.

This addresses Volkswagen’s Dieselgate and instances where manufacturers promised mpg and CO2 levels that weren’t delivered. However WLTP doesn’t necessarily apply to a limited number of end of series cars that are unsold as yet – this is a bit of a grey area it seems.

In a nutshell, WLTP is intended to replace the previous New European Driving Cycle (NEDC) new car check/procedure that clearly didn’t work as intended.

All new cars sold/registered after 1 September 2018 should therefore meet WLTP (other than a few permitted exceptions). It is worth noting that the costs of meeting WLTP are considerable. For example, VW estimates this would have cost them some £890 million (had they done this, see below) – affecting profits and shareholders of course.

Manufacturers ready for WLTP

A summer 2018 Autocar survey confirmed that the following manufacturers were ready for WLTP:

Alfa Romeo, BMW, Citroen, Dacia, Fiat, Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Infiniti, Jaguar, Jeep, Kia, Land Rover, Lexus, Mazda, Mercedes, Mini, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Renault, SSangYong, Suzuki, Toyota, Vauxhall and Volvo.

… whereas the following manufacturers admitted they weren’t ready for WLTP ie that changes were required or that WLTP affected production:

Audi, Peugeot, Porsche, Seat, Skoda and Volkswagen.

NB: The most notable model removed from sale as a result of WLTP is the VW Golf GTI with the next-generation model due in 2019. Similarly the Audi SQ5 is suspended and the 1.4-litre TFSI-engined Audi A4 has been replaced with a 2.0-litre TFSI unit with the same power output.

The implications of WLTP

Could the high number of pre-registered VW car sales in August have something to do with new WLTP requirements?

For example, assuming those cars that don’t meet WLTP standards were first registered in August 2018 and have exception permissions, they don’t have to meet WLTP standards when sold in September 2018 – thus saving the manufacturer money.

Presumably motorists buying these cars in September 2018 won’t know that their new pre-registered car should but doesn’t meet WLTP standards?

WLTP issues for motorists

Certain issues arise for motorists as a result of WLTP.

  1. Manufacturers making WLTP changes are reporting 4-8 month delivery delays for best-selling car models.
  2. Pre-registered non WLTP compliant cars, sold in September 2018, could be seen as worth less than WLTP compliant models when their owners come to sell them.
  3. Insurers could re-value pre-registered cars that don’t meet WLTP in the event of write off claims.
  4. These changes may need making before MOT tests in three years time. But who pays?


The 4000 VW Group (including SEAT, Skoda, Audi, Porsche and Volkswagen) new car pre registrations in August was clearly a sales tactic which demonstrates

  • an intention to sell UK motorists new cars in September 2018 that don’t meet WLTP
  • that other manufacturers had time to plan and pay for WLTP changes but the VW Group chose not to
  • that the VW Group continues to put profits ahead of pollutants
  • the VW Group has not learned its ethical lesson for transparency in the UK, following Dieselgate.

I hope that there will be transparency about this in VW Group dealerships but in case this isn’t so, please check whether your 68 registered new car bargain was pre-registered to the dealer in August and may not therefore meet the new WLTP standards. Then, other than the cheaper price, ask them what the implications of this might be in future and make your own mind up in view of the above.

I hope that our Government will address this area alongside the VW Group detriment still being suffered by patient UK motorists post Dieselgate, influenced by where their engines were built (ie Germany) and whether these have been adapted or not yet. For your information, this is the latest in this saga – a most interesting reply from Jesse Norman MP (July 2018) to the Transport Committee Chair’s letter of December 2017 fighting the UK motorists’ corner /perch/resources/response-from-jesse-norman-mp-to-chair-re-volkswagen-emissions-scandal-19-7-2018-1.pdf.

Steph Savill
FOXY Founder

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